Hey guys 🙂
In this post, you’ll find out more about my track to Brussels, Belgium. This was also my last day in London so it really had a mixed vibe haha. Started my day preparing the bags and handing over the keys to my flat in Battersea (which I will miss it) and headed to Victoria Coach Station. From there I took a direct line to Brussels (Green Line) at 11 pm. The ticket price was about £20 and the journey lasted for about 6:30 hours. Was lucky enough to meet Stella, travelling to Greece via Prague-Budapest and coincidently we shared the same couch via Brussels.
The trip was quite fun and the coach stopped for a half an hour in Bruges for a quick break. In between lots of funny experiences, card tricks, mind-games etc etc, we almost missed our coach whilst running from the toilet in the stop searching for 50cents to pay for the services haha. Piece of advice #1: Ask before queuing up if they accept card (they don’t anyway) and be prepared to have coins. Advice #2: Make sure to count the change if you hand over bills – I know why I am saying it haha.
Fun fact #1: We have even worn the same shoes – how cool is that, innit? I mean really now, what are the odds?
Fun fact #2: When crossing the underwater tunnel to Calais, I really got the feeling the earth was moving from some sort of earthquake or bridge passing (not sure either what I was really thinking back then), but them Stella brought me back, being kind enough to mention the couch was in an underwater carriage passing at high speed the canal. Hmm..makes sense right? #rickandmorty
Fast forward, I got to my Airbnb in Brussels, soaked & tired with 3 big luggage (exactly my entire life in England). Did a proper shower. Had a proper coffee. Realised I am in the heart of the city. Wow. The architecture is amazingly old and has breath-takings buildings…
The city is always full of life. All pubs are packed and streets are amazingly crowded as well (I am amazed not because is not usually normal this way, but because I wasn’t expected to see see the city in such a vibrant way during Coronavirus pandemic). Well, I guess there are other people like me travelling throughout Europe, being amazed about cities being crowded during these uncertain times haha.
During the first night, I went out for a stroll in the City Centre and walked around Grand Palace which was lighted in beautiful colours and they projected a short theatre scene on the building walls and everyone gathered to watch it. After that, I went for a beer and (FYI drinking outside after 12 am is illegal – the fee is around 300euros). I went for a Duvel in the corner shop and then walked to see as much as I could. Funny enough: on my wayfinding a techno club in the City Center, I was trapped by a group of French girls looking for fun and then we all realised all clubs are temporarily closed (#coronavirus). Anyway, we went to a pub and got some gin & tonic and vodka – and I really struggled to understand what they were saying. I guess I should’ve listened more to French classes in high school. Long live Duolinguo!
Fast forward to the next day. I walk up pretty late, not sure why exactly. Maybe because I had to carry 20kgs from London to Brussels (as I said, my entire life in London) and woke up with muscle pain all over my back – but that didn’t stop me from spending the day as planned.
Here is my itinerary for the day, but I will detail everything below.
- Halle Gate
- Egmont Palace
- Mont des Arts
- Royal Palace of Brussels
- Parc du Cinquantenaire
The weather was rainy in the morning, but it cleared out just in time. I decided to walk to Halle Gate first, a medieval fortified city gate and the last vestige of the second walls of Brussels. Now it’s only a museum, part of the Royal Museums of Art and History (RMAH), located on Boulevard du Midi/Zuidlaan between the City of Brussels and Saint-Gilles municipalities.
Unfortunately, Egmont Palace and Mont des Arts were closed due to coronavirus and I was only able to visit it from outside. What was really cool to notice was that all streets names are written in both Dutch and French since the capital is bilingual, but as far as I heard in the East part of the country they also speak German. Another thing to notice is that most of the shops are closed Sundays, but pubs and coffee shops are open as early as 8 am.
During my stroll, I had some well-needed coffee stops and one of them really blew my mind. The coffee shop is called Golden Bean. It is perfectly located with very artistic design with free WiFi, the staff was very friendly and welcoming and the most important – the double caramel macchiato was just heavenly amazing. Overall, it really was a nice spot to have a quick break and enjoy my coffee.
The Royal Palace is the official palace of the King and Queen of the Belgians. However, it’s not used as a royal residence, as the king and his family live in the Royal Palace of Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels.
Just in front of the Palace, you will find a beautiful parc called Cinquantenaire Park (French: Parc du Cinquantenaire). At the southeastern point of the park is a giant arch with two arms extending out. It is quite a monumental entrance – the two arms of the arch are home to three museums: The Autoworld, an art museum and an army museum.
From there, I took the tube back to Central Station. The cost of the journey was 2.1 euros one way, but you might get it cheaper if you plan to use the tube more often (I only need it once). Overall, the tube is chic with brown wood seats, the stops are clean and the distance between stops is super short (1 min tops). I really got a feeling that the overall underground structure is very similar to Paris.